Sunday, March 5, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Females of Lagos : From the Sensuous to the Mystical


                                                                                                                                          Females of Lagos

                                                                                               From the Sensuous to the Mystical

                                                                                                                                  Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju
                                                                                                                  Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems
                                                                                                      "Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge"



                                                                                         Transforming a chance glimpse of an exquisite leg at a party into a mystical progression,
                                                                                         a journey to the metaphysical ground that enables the being of that leg, a movement
                                                                                         propelled through dialogue with an ecumenical range of mystical masters.

                                                                                         "God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and its circumference nowhere".
                                                                                          Most likely from Augustine of Hippo.

The event was a child's birthday party at a park in Lagos. I had rushed to film the dancing contest for the children at the event. As I trained my tablet camera on the space where the action was taking place, I observed that the lens also picked up a figure sitting directly beneath my standing form, granting  a glimpse of her exquisitely structured legs and flowing hair. Luck had blessed me, for I was being granted a chance to graduate from being a seeker of striking women's pictures on the Internet to one who creates such images himself from direct experience.

The dynamism of fortune is so complex, the expressions of vocation so crazily indirect, that, here I was, about to fulfill a dream I had first nurtured as a teenager whose fellow teenager mocked me out of the vision. A number of surreptitious shots followed without anyone observing my calmly determined activity.

The outcome of the fortuitous photographic encounter is here presented as a mystical progression inspired by a sudden glimpse like that of Kafka's character in The Trial, who, after interminable waiting for admission, perceives a ray of light from beyond the gates of the Law, an unfolding culminating in the spirit of the Islamic mystic who encounters the Holy One, only "to perceive you still veiled".


                                                                                                                                       Glimpse of Eden                                                                                                

                                                                                                                              "Reveal your presence clearly

                                                                                                                               and kill me with the beauty you discover".

                                                                                                                               Juan de la Yepes, "Canciones Entre el Alma  y el Esposo"

                                                                                                                               John of the Cross, "Songs Between the Soul and the Bridegroom"

                                                                                                                                Translated by Roy Campbell



                                                                                                                                              Splendid Pyramid

                                                                                               "At the apex of the mind, I beheld something unchanging, in a momentary flash".

                                                                                                                                    Augustine of Hippo, Confessions


                                                                                                                          Sinderin Numinoso, the Lightning Flash                                                                                    

"I said to her, 'Look at the one who seeks to sit with you and desires to be intimate with you.' ... Then she shone [ cf., tajallī ] to me a truth of her beauty and I was overwhelmed with passion. I was felled before her and the moment overcame me. When I recovered again after fainting, with trembling shoulder blades from fear (khashya), she knew that knowledge of her had arrived, and she ... sat.

I said to her, 'Show me some of your mysteries, so that I would be one to transcribe your beauties.' She said, 'Observe the sectioned segments of my [ flowing form]  and the ordered arrangement of my shape and you will find what you are asking of me to be imprinted throughout me, for I am neither a mukallim [ who speaks for herself ] nor a kalīm [ who speaks for another ], and my knowledge is not anything but me, and my Substantive (dhāt) is not different from my names (nouns). I am knowledge, the known, and the one who knows. I am the ḥikma (wisdom), the muḥkam (the fount of wisdom secured from ambiguity), and the ḥakīm (who decides wisely).'"

Ibn al-ʿArabī, Futūḥāt al-Makkīya, The Meccan Illuminations. Translated by Eric Winkel. Edited by changing masculine pronouns to feminine.

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